Saturdays in my realm are Pizza Night. It’s the perfect day for it because HRH Beermeister makes them and he doesn’t work on weekends (usually). Plus, there’s always plenty of leftovers for Sunday lunch the next day!
Now this is for real from scratch, start to finish, pizza. HRH has spent several years tweaking it to get it just right, and boy did he get it right!! Each component of the recipe only has a few ingredients and the steps are really simple. I hope you give it a shot!
To start off, here are the dough ingredients: olive oil, water, bread flour, yeast, salt, and herbs of your choice (rosemary, in this case).
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attached. When using a mixer, occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to knead the dough until smooth and elastic, and only a small amount of dough sticks to the bottom of the bowl, about 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in more flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add water.
If mixing by hand, mix the dough in the bowl until just combined. Turn the dough onto a floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic, it will feel slightly sticky. If it is gooey, add flour a little at a time. The best test for knowing when dough has been kneaded enough is the “window pane” test.
Pull a small piece of dough off and stretch it in front of a light. This illustrates that the gluten has become elastic enough to stretch without tearing and allows light to come through the dough. If it tears too easily, then the dough is too dry; you can add a small amount more water to soften it up as you continue kneading.
Once the desired consistency is reached, place the dough in a large bowl, push down so that it’s evenly distributed, cover, and allow to rise for 30 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size.
While that’s happening, let’s get the sauce started. The few necessary ingredients here are olive oil, ground pepper, 2 cups (or one can) of plain tomato sauce, sugar, salt, and Italian seasonings. You can use whatever seasonings you like, or you can use an Italian mix (this is an equal mix of thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and basil).
Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour or so. Leave in the pan to cool until ready to use. Easy, huh?
Let’s get back to the dough…
Pour the dough from the bowl onto a floured countertop and lightly punch down.
Divide into 3 equal pieces of about 12 ounces each (this can vary quite a bit, due to different humidity, etc., as long as the pieces are equal, that’s all that matters).
Shape each piece into a smooth boule (ball). Place on a dry towel or piece of parchment, cover with another dry towel and allow to rise until double (in Maine that’s about 45 minutes!). If your using a pizza stone, turn the oven on to 550 degrees now, to allow the stone to preheat. If not, you will preheat normally.
Once the boules have just about doubled in size, it’s time to shape the pizza. Alternately use your fingertips and the heel of your hand to flatten the pizza, turning it as you go to keep a round shape, until you have the desired size and thickness.
Or, if you have any experience at this, you could toss it. Even if you don’t have experience, you could toss it, but I won’t be held responsible for dough on your ceiling! If you don’t want to try throwing it, after shaping the boule into a circle roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s about 1/4 inch thick or 12 inches in diameter. On a side note-never in the almost eight years that my dear husband has been doing this have I ever noticed that he curls his fingers like that to prevent tearing the dough when he catches it! This blogging business is quite an eye opener!
You can do the window pane test again with your stretched dough. If it tears easily, the dough is too thin. You can see the rosemary in this picture. Now it’s time for the yummy stuff!
Obviously, at this point, it’s your call on toppings. One of the great things about this recipe is the fact that you get to make three pizzas, so you can make everyone happy! Here, HRH used tomato, onion, a rainbow of bell peppers, portobella mushrooms, pepperoni, ham, parmesan, and mozzarella.
You could put your prepared dough on parchment paper to stop it from sticking to the counter once you add the toppings.
Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the pizza and spread it along the crust. Spoon on some pizza sauce and spread around with the back of your spoon.
Sprinkle two to three tablespoons of cheese on the pizza, then add your toppings. Cover with mozzarella. Use as little or as much as you like, but we’ve found that too much gets heavy and takes flavor from the rest of the pizza. Usually about six to eight ounces is plenty.
All set and ready for the oven!
Using a flat cookie sheet or a pizza peel, transfer the parchment and pizza to the oven (a pizza stone is great, but not vital). The oven is set to 550 degrees. Bake for one minute, then use your cookie sheet or peel to gently lift the edge of the pizza and pull the parchment out. Continue baking for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how soft you like your crust. Use the cookie sheet or peel to remove your finished pizza from the oven. Place the pizza on a cooling rack for a few minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with some parmesan and …
Hand Tossed Pizza
FOR THE DOUGH:
20 ounces (4 cups) bread flour (all purpose will work too)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (one envelope) yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 3/4 cups warm (about 100 degrees) water
Pinch of herbs (optional)
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 cups tomato sauce (or one can)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
To start the dough: Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attached. Combine the ingredients until a dough forms. If mixing by hand, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. If using a mixer, continue kneading on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough on a large bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 30 minutes to an hour, or until doubled.
To make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour or so. Leave in the pan to cool until ready to use.
Once the dough is doubled, turn it onto a flour surface and lightly punch down. Divide into 3 equal pieces of about 12 ounces each. Shape each piece into a smooth boule (ball). Place on a dry towel or piece of parchment, cover with another dry towel and allow to rise for an hour.
If using a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 550 degrees. If not, preheat the oven once you begin shaping the pizzas.
When the boules have just about doubled in size, shape the pizza. Alternately use your fingertips and the heel of your hand to flatten the pizza, turning it as you go to keep a round shape, until you have the desired size and thickness.
Place shaped pizza on parchment . Drizzle olive oil around the edge and smear with fingertips. Spoon on 3 to 4 tablespoons sauce and spread with the back of a spoon.
Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons mozzarella on top. Add desired toppings and cover with more mozzarella.
Using a cookie sheet or pizza peel, transfer the parchment and pizza to the oven. Bake for one minute, then use a cookie sheet or peel to lift the edge of the pizza and remove the parchment. Continue baking for 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the pizza with a cookie sheet or pizza peel and transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle with parmesan. Allow to cool for 5 to 7 minutes, slice, and serve!